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A rare opportunity for Iafeta "Jeff" Vou and 6 other local athletes

Iafeta "Jeff" Vou [courtesy photo]

One of the six local wrestlers who are now in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan to represent the territory for the first time ever at the 5th Asian Martial Arts and Indoor Games is Iafeta "Jeff" Vou.

The 19-year-old student who attended Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MIssouri is one of seven local athletes who will be competing alongside their Oceania counterparts and all 45-member countries of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

Samoa News will be providing coverage of the Games, sponsored by Carl's Jr.

The athletes, accompanied by ASNOC officials, departed the territory last Monday and won't be back for three weeks.

The Games are set to be held Sept. 17-27.

The opening ceremony is this Sunday, but Team American Samoa - who'll be competing in two out of the 21 sporting events - won't see any action until next week, with track & field hopeful Isaac Silafau set to compete in the 60m and the long jump on Sept. 18 and 20; and the wrestling team scheduled to hit the mat on Sept. 25-26.

In addition to Jeff, other local wrestlers who will be competing include Daniel Misaalefua, Pita Fanolua, Zena Iese, Sealiitu Mauga and Nolan Puletasi.

ASNOC president Tuiaana Ed Imo calls the trip a 'rare opportunity' for the local athletes, and thanks the Asian Indoor Games Committee for giving American Samoa the chance to participate.

At the Asian Games - and during any Olympic affiliated Games - American Samoa is able to compete under its own flag, because it has its own National Olympic Committee.

"We are very fortune to be able to represent our nation and subsequently, our culture, along with only 206 countries in the world,” said ASNOC general secretary Ethan Lake, who is part of the local delegation to Turkmenistan.

Good luck Team American Samoa!